By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

DAMAGED. The BRP Bagacay, which was earlier hit by the China Coast Guard’s water cannon in Bajo de Masinloc, is docked at Pier 13 in Manila South Harbor on Thursday (May 2, 2024). Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo inspected the damage to the ship’s port railings, LED screen display, and a steel canopy at the back of the vessel, all estimated at PHP2 million. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said no official of the Marcos administration has entered into any agreement with China regarding Ayungin Shoal.

This was after the department issued a statement over the weekend saying that it was “not aware” of any “new model arrangement” in Ayungin Shoal referred to by the Chinese Embassy.

“In this respect, the DFA can confirm that no cabinet-level official of the Marcos administration has agreed to any Chinese proposal pertaining to the Ayungin Shoal,” the DFA said in a statement.

“The DFA wishes to emphasize that only the President of the Republic of the Philippines can approve or authorize agreements entered into by the Philippine Government on matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and South China Sea.”

“No such document, record or deal exists as far as the Philippine Government is concerned.”

Earlier, the DFA reaffirmed its position on not abandoning its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf including Ayungin Shoal.

Disinformation such as this only confuses the Filipino public and distracts everyone from the real issue of China’s unfounded claims and illegal and aggressive actions in the Philippine waters, it said.

The Chinese Embassy has claimed that it had a consensus with some representatives of the current administration in addition to former President Rodrigo Duterte’s “gentleman’s agreement” with Beijing and both aim to keep the status quo in the WPS.

It has also denied that China’s agreement with the Duterte administration was done in secret and contended that the Marcos administration knows about it since the start of its office.

‘Zombie stories’

A ranking official of the Philippine Navy (PN), meanwhile, described the Chinese Embassy’s claims as “zombie stories”.

“I call them ‘zombie stories’ long dead but revived from the grave; (the) best approach is to put these stories where they rightfully belong – in the grave, never to be heard again,” PN spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said in a statement.

He added that these stories were all fabricated and products of the Chinese Communist Party’s imagination to “divert attention from their violations of international law”.

Trinidad also said these claims are aimed at causing divisiveness among Filipinos, aside from providing China with a “smoke screen”, as they advance their agenda in the WPS. (with report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)